Friendships are their best when young and growing up. This is a peek into an interracial experience with a white devil.
Blonde Haired, Blue-Eyed, White Devil
I grew up in the San Fernando Valley during the mid 70’s into the 80’s. My brother and I shared a best friend. Our only friend for many years as kids. He was white, blonde, and had big blue eyes with long blonde eyelashes. In fact, it is possible he was an albino when I think back on it. He was as white as white can be and teased by his sisters and others about being so blonde and white.
Our family were the only black family for blocks or even miles around and on our street. The few that attended our elementary school didn’t live close by and therefore we couldn’t associate with after school.
It wasn’t until junior high school that my brother and I had any exposure from other black kids due to the busing in of inner-city kids. What I found odd with most of the kids bused in was that they felt awkward. They felt out of place as if in a foreign country. They would say they were so far from home and that things were different in the valley. I didn’t know it then but they were right in every aspect. I can’t recall any that liked being bused in and so far away from home.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thisltes?
Matthew 7:16 KJV
Our neighbor was younger than us by a handful of years and therefore we never attended school at the same time except for a part of elementary. What tied us together was we were neighbors, boys, and had the same or similar interests.
He was quite the character; spunky, energetic, funny and peculiar, too. I say peculiar because he was unassuming. He didn’t seem uncomfortable with the difference between our races. It wasn’t uncommon for that to be the case with others at school and elsewhere.
He had two older sisters with whom we never developed friendships with. They often treated him as if he were a step child. Mean and rude was the norm. His mother was a woman who struck me as a worn person. You could tell that she had lived a challenging life. His father worked in construction I believe and spent his time at home drinking. He ended up in the hospital at least once I can recall because of it. The drinking would–as predictable–take his life
So with a home full of women and no other boys in the immediate vicinity or of similar age, my brother and I were fit for friendship it seems. We could not stray far from sight and neither could he.
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The three of us got along well. When young boys have little they can’t relate to with each other. Invitations from time to time by my father to eat dinner with us he seemed to enjoy. This was strange not because of race, it was rare for my father to allow for us to have friends in the house period. There was something about him that my father liked and it showed in the way he treated and spoke to him.
I don’t think his mother and sisters cared much for us. They weren’t interested in getting friendly. The younger of the two sisters would hang limitedly around the three of us but that’s about it. I learned later that the younger of the two sisters had a crush on little ole me. Things never developed with this crush, though. She was a slight bit older than I and I was too shy.
Things weren’t always great though. Things from time to time got edgy. When arguments could not conclude, nasty words would be flung about to insult each other. The ace card for him was to call us niggers and our reply would be to call him a cracker or white boy. Sometimes his mother would come over and mediate the situation with our mother. It was always cordial. The best thing is that we never got into fist fights no matter how mad we could get with each other. I think we knew that we needed our friendship with each other because we had limited options. Friendships have their ups and downs but got over whatever issues there were and didn’t miss a beat.
I was seeing that friendships are as complicated as romantic ones I’d later learn.
Just after my thirteenth birthday, we moved away from the neighborhood never saw him again. As the years have passed I often think about him. What happened to him and what is he doing and how is are the questions grab me.
I learned a lot from that relationship. The most important lesson being that relationships are challenging. Even with someone you consider your closest friend–your best friend. But if you are deepest friends you can overcome things that can ruin casual acquaintances.
There is one other valuable lesson. People of different races can have strong ties with each other so long as there are common cultural traits shared amongst themselves.
The Blonde haired, blue-eyed, white devil was a term I heard later on in life. All white men were devils with an inherent trait to be evil. I knew from my experience growing up that this was not true. If it were true, then all blacks were savages and uncivilized. So long as we allow this to remain the center of our black consciousness, it will forever divide blacks and whites as well as others.
I look back on this experience with fondness. There is nothing I would want to change about it either. Many things divide people and race is one of the greatest. But things that can bring people with differences whether racial, cultural or otherwise do exist. Allowing relationships to develop in a natural way creates the potential for organic bonds with each other. Whenever forced association is asserted it will always be met with resistance. Nature provides us the means to choose with whom we wish to associate and as such should be let alone.
Our friendship was organic which was the result of common interests with the good and bad unforeseen.
The only Devils I have ever known were not white, didn’t have blonde hair or blue eyes. They looked a lot like me.
Truth is we can all be devils some more than others.